Story of the Year claim to have finally found their musical identity with The Black Swan, their first indie release via Epitaph after two studio albums over on Maverick Records; it sounds to be basically a fusion of the band's prior releases, a happy middle ground somewhere between the soul-searching alt rock anthems of their debut and the harder, gutsier In the Wake of Determination. But as self-assured as that may sound, all it really means is, well, The Black Swan is another Story of the Year album. This predictability doesn't necessarily make a tiresome set -- exhilarating closer "Welcome to Our New War" finishes the proceedings with a nice adrenaline rush -- just one that's pretty much expected, which will probably comfort some, but do nothing to convert anyone still sitting on the fence. Fans will bask in the familiar rise and fall sing-scream dynamics of songs like "Wake Up," "Choose Your Fate," and "Apathy Is a Deathwish," while elsewhere they'll appreciate relatively softer moments, as in the soaring emotions of "We're Not Gonna Make It" and the piano-embossed ballad "Terrified," which comes complete with gentle drum rolls and sweet vocal harmonies. Songs build, crash, chug and crescendo as expected, proving that Story of the Year's new home on Epitaph does nothing to alter or influence the quintet's take on emotional, accessible rock music with hardcore flourishes. It's superficially an odd pairing of label and band, but one that ultimately affects little more than the logo stamped on the album's back cover.
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar